Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal Monday briefed the Parliamentary Committee on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor about the CPEC’s long term plan agreed between the two countries in a Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting here last month.
Briefing the committee meeting, chaired by Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, the minister said the plan was approved after an 18-month long consultation process and sharing with all the provinces, said a press release.
The provinces endorsed the plan before it was sent to China and “now it is an official document of the CPEC,” he added. Ahsan Iqbal said agriculture, poverty alleviation, tourism, culture and improvement in people’s livelihood had been added in the CPEC profile aimed at ensuring wellbeing of local communities.
Under the plan, he said agricultural research would be undertaken for producing value-added yields by using modern technology. ‘Since Chinese tourists are increasing in large number, it was decided to promote tourism projects by establishing resorts along the Makran coast, which would help encourage people to people exchanges between Pakistan and China within the framework of culture and education’.
In January 2018, a delegation of Pakistan’s exporters would go to China to enhance Pakistan’s export potential and this delegation is being facilitated by the Government of Pakistan.
During the JCC meeting, the Minister apprised the committee that all the chief ministers were present as well as, for the first time, representatives of chambers of commerce and industry.
He also informed that the groundbreaking of Gwadar International Airport will be performed in March 2018. The meeting was informed that contrary to the speculation in the media, the reports of shelving three infrastructure projects were not correct, rather, Chinese side was reviewing the financial mechanism of these projects and these would be started upon receipt of approval from the Chinese side.
The Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) project has been approved as CPEC project while similar projects for Quetta and Peshawar will be reviewed upon receiving technical feasibility reports of the project.
The committee was also briefed by the Ministry of Power regarding the ongoing Early Harvest energy projects. The Thar coal project would be operational by June 2019 based on mining of indigenous coal from Thar.
The Port Qasim power project would be completed by February 2018 while the other projects including the Hubco 1320 MW project and two hydro power projects in Sukki Kinari (870 MW) and Karot (720 MW) are being completed before their schedules.
The committee expressed satisfaction with the progress of the Early Harvest Projects as well as the development of the Gwadar Port. Committee chairman Senator Mushahid Hussain welcomed the inclusion of agriculture sector in CPEC, saying the agriculture was the backbone of the Pakistan’s economy. Under the plan, he said farmers would get latest technology in collaboration with China and the agriculture sector would flourish.
He also welcomed the inclusion of tourism and culture in the CPEC’s long term plan, adding that the portfolio has been broadened to include these key elements of promoting people-to-people understanding.
Among others, the meeting was attended by Senator Lt-Gen (retd) Salahuddin Tirmizi, MNAs Rana Muhammad Afzal, Isphanyar M. Bhandara, Aijaz Hussain Jakhrani, Asad Umar, Sheikh Salahuddin, Alhaj Shahji Gul Afridi and senior officers of different ministries and departments.